One thing has been clear since the season ended following a 6-0 victory over the eventual Super Bowl champions in Philadelphia — the Dallas Cowboys are putting all of their focus and attention in building the offense, and team as a whole, around their young Pro Bowl signal-caller.
Dak Prescott lit up the NFL world en route to 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, but Prescott — and the rest of the team — struggled at certain points during the back-half of last year’s campaign. Despite the rocky finish, our own Michael Sisemore wrote on why you cannot let Dak’s last eight games overshadow his first 24.
The Dallas Cowboys strongly believe that they struck gold in the fourth-round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Therefore, the front office and coaching staff want to do everything possible to make sure that they maximize the potential of their young, 24-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback.
One of the biggest developments of the offseason was the overhaul of the wide receiver position. Once free agency opened, rumors began to circulate that Dallas was interested in signing Sammy Watkins or Allen Robinson, but the Chiefs and Bears, respectively, outbid all of the other suitors.
Dallas ultimately inked two wide receivers during the free agency period: Allen Hurns from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Deionte Thompson, a wideout that played under Sanjay Lal in Buffalo. Hurns, 26, jumped on the radar in 2015 when he grabbed 64 passes for 1,031 yards and ten touchdowns.
The Cowboys decided to part ways with Dez Bryant in April, signaling that a new era is truly here in The Big D. As a result, Allen Hurns is one of the main players expected to step up at the wide receiver position this season. When OTA’s began earlier this week, the Miami Hurricanes product was instantly impressed with Dak and the quarterback’s ability to rally a team around him.
“He’s the main man right there,” Hurns said with a smile. “I really was impressed by him and what he’s able to do. He’s only in his third year, but you can see he has everyone’s respect, and it’s earned. He’s not afraid to tell guys to pick it up. But he does it in a way where guys will rally around him.”
Hurns continued, mentioning that he believes that Dak has what it takes to replace the leadership void that is left behind by the future Hall-of-Famer Jason Witten:
“Dak is the guy that’s surprised me when I first got here,” Hurns said. “Just being Year 3, you don’t see that leadership from those guys. Yeah, he a quarterback. He had to grow up early but he’s a very vocal leader. And he’s one that leads by example as well. In the weight room, on the field, during conditioning, he’s wanting to be first. That surprised me a lot. With Witten gone, yeah, he’s a bigger leader for us. He’s going to be truly missed but I think Dak got it all under control, being the head man in charge.”
Hurns hasn’t even been under contract with the Dallas Cowboys for three months yet, but the former Jags wideout is buying into Dak Prescott which speaks volumes to not only the Cowboys’ quarterback’s character, but the kind of weight that he carries when he walks into the locker room or huddle. Players, like the newly-signed Hurns, want to follow him. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan echoed those sentiments:
“You have to make it important to have a relationship with almost anybody,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “It’s easy for a quarterback to be on the offensive side and kind of stay in his lane and do all that stuff. But I’ve said this a number times, there’s never really a time during the course of the day that he doesn’t make sure that he has some kind of, I don’t know exchange or conversation, appearance with everybody. He knows it’s important that he shows the whole team that that’s as important to him as the offense. Yeah, I think he has to work at that but he also embraces that and really enjoys it I think.”
Following his breakout 2015 campaign in which he emerged as a potential star for the Jags, Hurns’ production dropped — due to nagging injuries and other factors. Was it a one-year wonder, or will the player that set the record for the most receiving yards in a single-season in Miami Hurricanes history bounce-back in the silver and blue?
It appears that Hurns believes the latter — and it helps that one of the newest Dallas Cowboys is already developing some chemistry with the man running the offense.
“We’re really working together a lot,” Hurns said of his quarterback. “I think I’m getting a good feel for his game and he’s getting the chance to do the same with me. I think we’re building some great chemistry.”
Allen Hurns in last season’s AFC championship game vs. the Patriots: 6 catches, 80 yards pic.twitter.com/66IXnsYlCw— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) March 23, 2018
The Dez Bryant departure leaves a hole in the wide receivers room for the Cowboys. Is Allen Hurns going to be the man that steps up and fills it?